Abstract Detail

Molecular Ecology

Hernandez, Adriana [1], Specht, Chelsea [2].

Allelic variation indicates clinal adaptation to climate in a California wildflower.

A key goal of biology is to understand how biodiversity is driven and maintained across natural, heterogeneous, and changing landscapes. One approach is to examine the molecular basis of adaptation to local climate through high-throughput genotype and environmental data. However, most studies have focused on model or cultivated organisms, guaranteeing extensive genome coverage and/or a controlled set of phenotypes under analysis such as for agricultural applications. This project leverages a highly polymorphic wildflower in the genus Calochortus, C. venustus, to identify and to interpret the genetic mechanisms underlying local climatic adaptation across California’s diverse and unique habitats utilizing genotype-environment associations, a type of genome-wide association analysis. Over 94,700 genetic markers were used to test associations between 174 genotypes and nine climatic variables known to influence growth, flowering time, and distribution of California’s native plants, such as annual precipitation and temperature seasonality, which are also expected to change under the global climate crisis. We find evidence of ecological specialization at the molecular level, including genes known from model systems to regulate cold stress, heat, water deprivation, salt stress, and root development. Single nucleotide polymorphisms that evolved across independent transects show parallel trends in allelic similarity across latitudes indicating adaptation to northern climates, and/or divergent genetic evolution across longitude suggesting adaptation to either coastal or inland habitats. These results highlight the importance of understanding how these climatic variables affect local adaptation to temperature and precipitation at the molecular level. These data provide a springboard for future studies to examine how projected changes in specific climate variables may affect adaptive phenotypes, population vitality and connectivity.

1 - Cornell University, School of Integrative Plant Science, Section of Plant Biology and the L.H. Bailey Hortorium, Ithaca, NY, 14853, United States
2 - Cornell University, Plant Biology, Plant Science, 236 Tower Road, Ithaca, NY, 14851, United States

allele frequency
Climate Gradients 
genotype-environment association
parallel evolution
Genetic variation.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Number: ME2001
Abstract ID:321
Candidate for Awards:None

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